The Australian Army Nursing Service, which was actually a reserve, was established on 1 July 1902. The Service was staffed by volunteer civilian nurses who would be available for duty during times of national emergency. Members of the Service served in both the World Wars, staffing medical facilities in Australia and overseas. In 1949 the Service became part of the Australian Regular Army and is now known as the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC).
Prior to Australia's Federation in 1901, each colony controlled its own defence force, of which the nursing services formed a part. In July 1902 the nursing services of each colony joined together to form the Australian Army Nursing Service. The Service which was part of the Australian Army Medical Corps was made up of volunteer trained nurses who were willing to serve in times of a national emergency.
At the outbreak of World War I staff were recruited from both the nursing service and the civilian workforce. They served at field and base hospitals in Australia as well as in Egypt, England, France, Belgium, Greece, Salonika, Palestine, Mesopotamia and India. After the war the Australian Army Nursing Service returned to a reserve status.
The Australian Army Nursing Service was one of only two women's services (the other being Voluntary Aid Detachments) that were active at the outbreak of war in 1939. Initially the enlisted nurses were the only females to serve outside Australia. Members served in England, Egypt, Palestine, Libya, Greece, Syria, Ceylon, Malaya, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island as well as throughout Australia. They served on hospital ships, troop transports, base and camp hospitals and some spent time in Prisoner of War camps.
After the war members served as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. In July 1947 members of the Australian Army Nursing Service were transferred to the Interim Army, and in November 1948 the Service was designated a 'Royal' one. In July 1949 the Royal Australian Army Nursing Service became part of the Australian Regular Army. In February 1951 the Service became a Corps and is known as the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC). The Pledge of Service was introduced during World War Two.
AANS Pledge of Service
I pledge myself loyally
to serve my King and Country
and to maintain the honour and efficiency
of the Australian Army Nursing Service.
I will do all in my power
to alleviate the suffering of
the sick and wounded, sparing no
effort to bring them comfort of body
and peace of mind.
I will work in unity and
comradeship with my fellow nurses.
I will be ready to give assistance
to those in need of my help,
and will abstain from any action
which may bring sorrow
and suffering to others.
At all times I will endeavour
to uphold the highest traditions of
Womanhood and of the Profession
of which I am Part.
View the full record at
Australian Women's Register